An international analysis of the price and affordability of beer

Aims

To apply methods for measuring the affordability of beer in a large cross section of countries, and to investigate trends in affordability of beer over time.

Methods

We use the Relative Income Price (RIP), which uses per capita GDP, to measure the affordability of beer in up to 92 countries from 1990 to 2016 (69 countries were included in 1990, however the survey has since grown to include 92 countries). In addition to affordability, we also investigate trends in the price of beer.

Results

While beer is, on average, similarly priced in high-income (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), it is significantly more affordable in HICs. There is significant variation in both price and affordability in HICs and in LMICs. Beer has become cheaper in real terms in 49% (18/37) of HICs and 43% (20/46) of LMICs. Beer became more affordable in most HICs (RIP: 30/37 or 81%) and LMICs (RIP: 42/44 or 95%)

Conclusions

The increased affordability over time of beer in most countries raises concerns about public health. Governments need to increase taxes on beer so that it becomes less affordable over time, in an effort to improve public health.